December 12th, 2003
Week 49: 12/3 – 12/9

photo: Lobularia maritima Sweet Alyssum

2003-12-08. Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum) planted in the hollow of a rotted log. These are winter annuals from last year that revived with the cooler weather this November. Austin, Texas.

Dateline 2016

It rained all day. Luckily, I blew all the leaves off the roof and paths yesterday. It rained all day on Dec 3 in 2011, too. AJM went on the same 20 mile run while I worked on the computer huddled under the electric blanket, albeit on a different project. I did sow some larkspur seeds in the northeast corner in a spot I prepared yesterday. I can see why people who live in cold climates have so much time to bake and be crafty.

Dateline 2003

A very welcome gray day, misty, then drizzly, then a thunderous downpour. Just yesterday the Statesman was reporting that Travis County was under a burn ban, since we only received two-thirds of our usual rain for the year. All around us, the rain levels have been normal or higher than average. But Austin is in a little black hole of rainlessness.

And then today it rained. I gathered the rain harvest in every wheelbarrow and bucket I own. And, yes I do have a rain barrel. I just wish I had more.

A single rose blooms here and there. Today I cut ‘Peace’, ‘Souvenir de St Anne’s’ and ‘Blush Noisette’. I’m having a lot of problems with mildew especially on ‘Souvenir del Malmaison’ and ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ which are along the same south-facing wall.

This year, I didn’t wait for a freeze to kill off the summer vegetables, but took action and cleared them out. A lingering death is so ignoble.

Dateline 2001

The weather is setting the holiday mood; it continues to be cold, gray, and drizzly. I like this weather in this season of Advent because it makes me feel like baking, or sitting in front of a fire writing Christmas messages.

The garden needs tidying, but it will have to wait. I’m not in the mood to rake sodden leaves and the lawn is too wet to mow, even though it needs it. The bright green annual rye has now grown 6 inches.

Only the trailing lantana is in full flower. Some of the Grand Primo narcissus are sending up their flower spikes. The nandina berries are brilliantly red against deep green foliage (the foliage in my yard has not changed color as I’ve seen in other places).

In past years, I’ve spent this week cleaning up freeze damage. There is a sense of relief in the finality of a really hard freeze. But Austin’s first big freeze two weeks ago did not affect our yard. Both in summer and winter, the buildings downtown store and radiate heat, always making our yard a couple of degrees warmer than the official temperature at Camp Mabry. So the old tomato and basil plants linger on and I’m in no mood to deal with them.

by M Sinclair Stevens

3 Responses to post “Week 49: 12/3 – 12/9”

  1. From Margaret (UK):

    Here alyssum is a summer bedding plant usually grown with lobelia in County Council bedding schemes. Even in the damp north-west of England we had amazing autumn colour this year. Now we are in the wet, grey time when we see few flowers except the yellow of winter flowering jasmine and hellebores (Christmas roses). I think the unusual warmth this last summer must have affected them as they are still only in bud. Soon my all-time favourites – snowdrops – will start to show. Here’s to another good year in our gardens in 2004.

  2. From bill:

    Do you have your rain barrel hooked up to the gutter from the house or what?

    I have recently acquired three plastic barrels that formerly held soap and I am trying to figure out how to use them.

  3. From mstevens:

    Margaret: We keep getting those weeks of “wall-to-wall sunshine” that you like. The air is so dry that the skies have the blue of New Mexico or Nevada. Perfect for walking around and taking in the sights.

    Bill: Two years ago a tree fell on our roof and we had it replaced with a metal roof. This was step one in our plan to install rain-harvesting system. (Not the tree falling…that was just the impetus to get on with step one.) The roofers had to take out the rain gutters and as it turned out, they were causing the eaves to rot, so we didn’t install new ones.

    However, the pitch of the roof results in three places where most of the water runs off. That’s where I put the barrels.

    The City of Austin had a program to sell large plastic rain barrels for $35–about one-third their retail price. So we got one; but each household was allowed only one.

    Our yard is on a slope, so I’ve done a lot of terracing to keep the water from running off. I’ve dug up the driveway by the front door and installed a Japanese-style gravel garden to catch the run-off. Eventually, I want to get rid of all of the tar driveway and replace it with a pervious surface of gravel and latticed cement paving.